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Are Brick And Mortar Galleries Worth It?

Posted by: JC Findley on 01/24/2013 - 10:51 AM

Personally, I think galleries are going the way of Blockbuster and Borders. For sculptors and painters they will likely remain as a valid venue but for digital artists and photographers why pay gallery prices when you can shop at home? When I look at galleries to show my work they cannot be exclusive. The only gallery I am in now is a hybrid that is both a PoD AND has a brick and mortar space. Spending thousands to produce quality inventory for a gallery when that inventory may or may not sell is not an investment I will make if it is a stand alone gallery. If the gallery is a place to show my work that will ALSO lead them back to 1400 other images they may buy, then I can work with that.

Just my thoughts.


Most Recent Reply

Posted by: Chuck Staley on 01/25/2013 - 1:13 PM

I just completed a large body of work in 2012 and will spend 2013 approaching galleries, which may get me in a show in 2014 because most of the good galleries are already booked a year in advance.

But that's okay. I'm not going anywhere soon.

This is a website I created for the purpose of showing my work to galleries only.


Posted by: Mark Papke on 01/25/2013 - 10:43 AM

I think they still have their place. Yes people can look online and order art but due to display issues like color accuracy, calibration, etc. your art may not be represented as accurately as you would like. It may look good on your monitor if you have a good one, but lets face it most people can't afford and don't have that type of screen. Many people like to buy things they can physically see and touch. Also they know exactly what the product looks like that they are getting. Another thing is galleries are not saturated with millions of works of art that make the odds of yours being seen very small. You have a much better chance of someone seeing your art at a gallery.


Posted by: Mike Jeffries on 01/25/2013 - 5:12 AM

If, like myself, you are in the business of selling original paintings they still have a place in an artist's marketing strategy. Of course I sell prints, cards and posters of my work and also sell rights to my images to calendar, card and jigsaw companies and reproduction rights to magazines but I still get a buzz when someone parts with a sizable sum of money for one of my originals. I know from experience that a buyer needs to see an original in the flesh to be convinced enough to buy it and also most of my commissions are from people who have actually seen one of my originals in a gallery.

If people want cheap art they will get what they pay for--------cheap art but quality has always cost a bit more and art galleries are where you can still find art worth buying.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of selling affordable prints etc. on the internet but a real painting generally needs to be seen to sell and even though they are in decline galleries are one of the few places where an artist can have their work seen.


Posted by: Roy Erickson on 01/24/2013 - 9:31 PM

There ARE places in Florida where art and art galleries do well - but that is perhaps ONE percent of Florida - the rest are as satisfied with a poster on the wall from the furniture store as with a Rembrandt. Our little town is on the verge of attempting another art gallery - we tried 20 years ago - and it failed - mostly due to location - and the fact that while businesses were willing to marginally help - there was almost NO purchasing - and that was over a three year period before it finally folded. Now we will try again. a slightly better location - but one that still misses the biggest opportunity like being closer to the hub of tourist travel. This is NOT an artsy town - although there are near 80 members in the "art league". I'm told that about 30% are active.


Posted by: Kylani Arrington on 01/24/2013 - 8:36 PM

This is a very interesting topic...

Seattle is quite a hub to art galleries and museums and they're still very much buzzing with business. However, the smaller galleries are struggling a bit in the suburban areas nearby. The amount of money for renting out space to have your work displayed in a gallery is incredibly expensive. The price is going up since people don't really seem to shop there and since artists can generally name their own price, they ask for quite a lot. People know that these days they can get art online for CHEAP (in most cases). So I'm inclined to agree that they're going the way of Borders and Blockbuster. I think it'll take a while, though. Blockbuster went fast and Barnes and Noble is probably not far behind Borders.


Posted by: Darice Machel McGuire on 01/24/2013 - 8:21 PM

I have my miniature paintings in two galleries on Maui, one on Front Street the other is in the Gallery At The Ritz Carlton in Kapalua. Since I just moved here 6 months ago I needed a way to get connected fast. I was very lucky to choose the right gallery. Many galleries here in the resort town of Lahaina are famous and have famous artists represented in them. I'm looking forward to the day of my first "big" show here, sometime in the distant future (LOL). It is a 50/50 split when my work sales. I don't mind because I just doubled all my prices. The gallery I'm in happens to be the oldest one in Maui, Village Galleries (42 years in business). Both galleries are owned by the same owner, she actually has three. Even though the owner is very good at what she does and has a great reputation with both artists and customers, she is not up to speed on the internet marketing side of things. I think this could hurt her eventually. But am I worried? Nope. My work is selling really well, both the miniatures in the galleries and my larger painting I sell through my website and on here.

Lynn is right about what kind of work sales in resorts. People who visit resorts want memories of their visit and will buy images that reflect those memories. I was very fortunate to be raised in Lake Tahoe (another resort) with parents who owned a gallery there for almost 40 years. I learned a lot about the tourist industry through the many years of working at Lakeside Gallery.


Posted by: Edward Fielding on 01/24/2013 - 8:12 PM

People buy art on trips as souvenirs. I know that's when I'm in the mood to buy art.

Plus no one mentioned the real reason many people buy art - as a status symbol/bragging point. Charity auctions, art show auctions, art openings. This is entertainment for a certain economic status. Buying art in such a public way lets them show off to their friends. Having a gallery owner flaunt over them is part of what they are buying - attention.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 01/24/2013 - 7:17 PM

I agree that resorts could work well although they may limit the art that can be displayed to images related to the resort and its tropical themed art for resorts in tropical locales, snow and mountain landscape images for ski resorts, etc. That's not necessarily bad but it must be considered.


Posted by: Roy Erickson on 01/24/2013 - 6:00 PM

They also work in "resort" kinds of places - Highlands NC, Cedar Key, FL, Idyllwild CA, or in small coastal cities and towns. Galleries depend on an "educated" and monied clientele. Galleries will work for you if you have a salable body of work and as always - for any business - especially art - location location location.


Posted by: Dan Daugherty on 01/24/2013 - 5:48 PM

Great Subject for discussion JC.... Because of the small hoops Artist have to jump through and the fact that I have Sculpture which needs to be in a Gallery, I have been pondering turning my Living room into a Private Gallery which would be very easy as most of my sculptures are presently in there. It's located right in the front of my house and My Family room with the TV is all the way in the back so that part would work just fine...

But the big problem for me is getting people to hear about it, and to visit. No doubt it would have to be by appointment only, but oh well... No doubt it will be difficult and most people may feel uncomfortable viewing Art this way, but...

What other options are there?? I Like the Hospital Idea and office space idea, but a person could spend a week straight on the phone before finding the right place / fit for Sculpture.

I am still working on various Ideas...But it all takes too much time.


Posted by: Michael Peychich on 01/24/2013 - 5:22 PM

I like when I can show in a gallery however, the best ones are small gallery settings in hospitals or other large facilities that have high traffic. The stand alone galleries are harder to sell in because of lower traffic whereas a hospital could have several thousand people walking by it each day. I have sold to doctors, nurses, people from other states coming to see a family member, medical supply sales people and to the facility itself. My last big show in a hospital they sold 25% of my pieces and they also purchase 32 additional pieces for another hospital. Stand alone galleries work best if you can have a reception and if they do additional things to bring people in the door. One held concerts every Friday and Saturday nights with local musicians.


Posted by: Chuck Staley on 01/24/2013 - 3:23 PM

Lynn is correct when talking about a large city such as LA.

Look at how many galleries there are within walking distance of my house. These are in Culver City:

We could go north or west and I could show you dozens of others.

Maybe with photography, as JC says above, it is different, because a photo is pretty much a photo. But people want to see the artwork in person.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 01/24/2013 - 12:27 PM

I believe there are a handful of markets where they still work, all in large urban regions.


Posted by: Roy Erickson on 01/24/2013 - 11:47 AM

Yes, physical galleries are worth it to visual artists. The ONLY alternative - if you actually might like to make good money at it - is to have your own web site where you are not competing with thousands of other images of the same thing. certainly not here on FAA or any other POD.

On another POD site, a couple years back someone actually suggested doing just that - have a virtual gallery - where you walked into the room and monitors were set up for people to browse images, add your own frame or mat and order - just as you would if you were doing it on FAA. I don't think he ever got any traction - and he was wanting to do it in NYC.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 01/24/2013 - 11:00 AM

i never been in one, but i don't want to be in one. it seems that they want to control you. looking at past threads here, where you can't post things here and there because of whatever reason. you can't compete with them so you have to adjust your prices as well. you probably get good coverage when people walk in, but it all depends on the area. like i wonder how many of my buyers would want to get art in a gallery? many are known to be really expensive, or really snooty. lots just want to buy from their phone or at home.

yet many want to be in one just for the status. and they try really hard to get one, just to tell people they are in a gallery. and other people take them seriously for once, because they are in a gallery. so from that point of view, it might help to a degree. it gives you a sort of street cred.

in the future i can see a walk in pod, where people could look through a gallery set up as a frame and they can see the image in that frame and order it. maybe even printed right there. that i can see, but maybe not for another 5 or more years due to economy.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Mary Bedy on 01/24/2013 - 11:00 AM

I think they are eventually going by the wayside, JC for photographers in particular. It kind of makes me sad because no computer screen can show the color and detail of a large, well printed photo. Every time I see a painting by one of my favorite artists in a museum, I'm blown away by how much better/brighter the work is in person, so for painted pieces, and of course, as you mention 3 dimensional works I think they will be around for a while.

But, like you said, you can't print them all for gallery unless you have megabucks to spend on printing.


This discussion is closed.